Alexis wanted to do a big ride on Saturday and suggested the TMP big loop. It didn’t take much arm twisting to get me to agree to it, especially with the addition of the Robles loop and Cat Mountain, the way the loop should be ridden when riding it properly, but I put the kibosh on Golden Gate. Even I have my limits. I said that there was one rule to the TMP Big Loop: It had to be finished with dinner at Mi Ranchito. It didn’t take much to convince Alexis that that was a good idea as well.
We woke up to rain and delayed our start for an hour. I hear that rain comes in two week cycles around here, which makes perfect sense because Saturday morning was SSAZ, and two weeks from now is 24 hours of Old Pueblo, and the only sure way to guarantee rain around here is to hold a bike event. Anyways, I digress.
We got drizzled on a bit out at Robles but the moisture made the Cat Mountain climb oh-so-tacky. It was the first climb Scott and I did this November, and it pretty much killed me. It killed me less so this time around and we decided that we’d have to come back and work on the techy sections some time when we weren’t racing daylight. By the time we got down to Starr Pass, it was more sunny than cloudy and we continued on our merry way.
It really is delightful riding out there. Such minimal roads. Such excellent trail. Such an excellent opportunity to eat high-class, delicious hippy chocolate. When we rolled in to Saguaro National Park, I mentioned that I had plenty of food and maybe didn’t need chocolate. Alexis told me that she was going to forget I said that. This is how you tell you’ve found a good friend and riding buddy.
Riding with Alexis is a rolling geology lesson. The rocks are different shades of pink because of different sized iron particles. Potassium can also cause rocks to be pink. And the Tucson Mountains actually slid off of the Catalina’s when they got pushed up. I imagine Tucson is a pretty amazing place to know about geology.
On and on, a wicked tail wind blew us through the park, up Wade Road, and to the dreaded gas line. We started down it, enjoying the few mellow dips in the first section. As the biggies were about to start, Alexis said that the GPS track proper said to get off the gasline and go around. I wasn’t going to argue. Unfortunately, it said to get back on it for the last two big hills. I decided to argue with that one and we took the sneak around it because my goal was to maximize the fun factor, and there’s nothing ‘fun’ about those last two climbs. Not even Type-2 fun.
Back through Sweetwater and home to pick up Scott and jackets because any spectacular day circumnavigating the Tucson Mountains deserves to be finished with tacos. Mmmmmmm.
Riding on Super Bowl Sunday almost didn’t happen. Scott was working. I was maybe a bit tired. We managed to motivate for a tempo ride up Charlow gap and down Cherry Tank. About two minutes into pedaling along a flat road towards the climb, I announced that there was no way I was riding tempo. Legs were more than toasted. Go figure. This would have worked out well for me, except for the fact that to actually get me an my bike up the hill, at least the parts that I wasn’t hiking, required an effort level that I considered very much super-tempo. Scott has strange choices in hills for tempo workouts.
We descended Cherry Tank. We’d skipped it during our CDO-Epic after I lost my shit and Scott decided that I probably wasn’t up for the BS factor associated with it. That was a good call at the time. But I made me have exceptionally low expectations for the trail. And when you have low expectations, you tend to be surprised. I think I need to work on keeping my expectations low more often.
While we thought the sunset was going to be another dud while descending, the entire sky turned blood red as we were driving back towards Sprouts, where we were pretty much the only people in the store. I love the Superbowl.
Funny that this was during the ‘dud’ part of the sunset.
Toasted legs and all, I wasn’t about to bail on another assault on Cat Mountain with Alexis in the opposite direction from what I’m used to.
Lots of puzzles to figure out. Lots of laughs. Lots of tries.
Lots of moments of sub-grace, balanced out by a few moments of ‘Wow, that just happened. Yay!’
I guess that when I set my expectations low with my ability to ride some of the moves, every one that actually goes is a pretty major victory. Though I think the one that was the biggest win was the one that I’d watched Scott struggle with months ago. At the time I didn’t think I’d ever get it. Awkward, tight, but with a little bit of finesse and a whole lot of luck…I’ll take it.
Definitely a awesome three days of riding. Big rides. New rides. Tech rides. I love Tucson.